tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 3, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
wildly found in food and beverage containers and what you may need to know about it. what happened to three missing college teammates last heard from in a frantic phone call sunday night? and p return trip to the remarkable orphanage we visited last week, and how "nightly news" viewers are "making a difference." "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television is the good evening. it's election night, depending on where you live, and if you believe the political types out there, tonight's results could reflect how people are feeling about president obama and the democrats now that they're in power or not. they could just be election results. the big race is tonight in new jersey and virginia, and there are others. we begin tonight with one of those political types. he happens to be our nbc news political director and chief white house correspondent chuck
todd. hey, chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. well, look, today's election day is the first one on president obama's watch. and while there's always a danger, as you said of reading too much into these local elections, the greater danger for both political parties will be reading too little. voters went to the polls today in a handful of states, and even though president obama wasn't on the ballot, his presence was felt. democrats faced tough odds in virginia, where creigh deeds clings to a hope obama will energize voters. >> that's what we need to do in this race. that's what creigh deeds is committed to. >> reporter: republican bob mcdonell has focused not on the president but on taxes and jobs and a campaign targeted squarely at moderates. >> private-sector solutions and free enterprise and limited government. >> reporter: meanwhile, in new jersey embattled incumbent governor jon corzine is in a very tight race with republican chris christi, who once held a double-digit lead. >> driving up your taxes, not paying his own. chris christie. >> reporter: but tanks to a barrage of negative ads and the
rise of independent candidate chris daggett, corzine has closed the gap, giving the president what could be his party's lone bright spot. and in update new york, one unusual congressional race can tell us about the republicans' future direction. >> hello. how are you? >> reporter: republicans have been split between the actual nominee, dee dee scozzafava, and the independent. over the weekend scozzafava dropped out but instead of endorsing her conservative rival, she endorsed the democrat h hens. and the white house is trying to stir the pot and bring attention to this republican in-fighting. >> literally. literally, look at the guys who are supporting bill's opponent. >> reporter: but a hoffman victory won't end the fight between moderates and kivtives. >> if it goes country club blue moderate, it's going to lose. if it goes reagan conservative and commits to it, it's going to win landslides. >> i think anyone who agrees with their party all the time isn't doing their own thinking. you've got to have a few ideas that are a little bit different, otherwise you're sort of a machine. >> reporter: now, brian, we do have exit polls in both virginia and new jersey.
here's what we can tell you about the president, majorities in both state say he was not a factor. the president's job rating, interestingly, in virginia, 51%. it maybe shows you virginia may be america's perfect bell weather because that's exactly the same job rating we go in the nbc news/"the wall street journal" poll. brian/. >> and, chuck, you and i were talking earlier it's going to be hard to excite the people to go to the polls, unlike a year back. >> we're seeing a lack of energy. young voters, african-americans, hispanics. they surged in support of president obama. we're not seeing a lot of evidence of that same surge in either state, but in particular virginia, and that is a little bit of a warning sign probably to the democratic party. >> all right, chuck todd, we'll watch it all night. thanks for being with us. we turn now to the swine flu pandemic across this country. so much of the focus, ours and others, has been on young people falling ill with good reason. that is the age group most at
risk. but there is a serious danger for older folks as well. we have more on that tonight from our chief science correspondent robert bazell. >> reporter: arizona officials announced that gail stapleton, a 51-year-old high schoolteacher, died from swine flu. her death is a reminder that while the new virus is mostly a disease of children and young adults, it can strike older people as well. in a study of hospitalizations and deaths from swine flu from april 23rd through august 11th published in "the journal the of the american medical association," the california medical department found that the overall fatality rate for hospitalized patients was 11%, it was up for 20% for those 50 or older. >> there is a perception that the elderly are protected and have pre-existing immunity when in fact in our study, if the elderly were admitted and severely ill, they often ended up dying. >> reporter: the contradicter of the cdc was asked about the latest findings in a news
conference today. >> in terms of the specific report, we haven't reviewed it in detail. it doesn't change what our recommendations would be for vaccination because still overwhelmingly the number of people who were affected by h1n1 influenza are people are the age of 65. >> reporter: many of those who do want vaccinations continue to face long lines and shortages. >> so if you're 25 to 64 and you're healthy, we're sorry, but you will not get the vaccine today. >> reporter: and today president obama's spokesman said the president was frustrated by the delays. >> we're working each and every day to fix this. >> reporter: today the cdc director said he was concerned that people who seek vaccine and don't get it might get discouraged and stop trying, but he urged people not to give up. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. there is new concern tonight about the dangers of the chemical found in plastic bottles and canned food liners, bp aflt. it's been an ongoing worry in
baby bottles and water bottles. now consumers union, the folks who publish "consumer reports," are saying they found bpa in almost all of the 19 name brand foods they tested from juice to chicken soup and tuna fish. but questions remain over whether it's really a health risk. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: for years consumer advocates have warned of the dafrgers of exposure to bis phon ol a or bpa, a chemical ingredient in plastic bottles and canned food liners. now consumers union says research done by independent labs has found measurable levels of bpa in 19 different foods it tested. >> what's of concern to us is the wide range of levels that seem to be migrating into the food itself. >> reporter: brand name foods from vegetable soup to tuna fish, green beans, to corn and chili. even some foods labeled bpa
free. in animal studies exposure to bpa has been linked to birth defe defects. in humans, it's found to be a disrupter to heart disease and diabetes. just last week the federal government said it will spend $32 million over two years to study the effects of bpa exposure, something activists have long sought. >> we know enough about babies and children's exposure to hormone disrupters to know that we should be protecting them as much as possible. >> reporter: a plastic maker and six baby bottle makers have agreed to remove bpa from their products. in chicago, connecticut, minnesota and canada have also offered manufacturers to remove bpa from baby bottles. but a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group named stats, affiliated with george mason university, says today's consumer union research is seriously flawed, the risk overstated. >> the european union, japan, australian, new zealand, separate studies by france, germany, norway, have all found no risk.
>> reporter: and today the grocery manufacturers of america insisted bpa packaging is safe, and, quote, there is no need for consumers to change their purchasing or consumption patterns. officially, the fda agrees. under the bush administration, the fda ruled the bpas in packaging are safe. now under pressure, the obama fda is reviewing the science and promises a decision by the end of the month. tom costello, nbc news, washington. news on the economy tonight. auto sales for the month of october brought good news for two of the nation's so-called big three automakers. gm sales were up 4.7% from 2008. the company's first year over year gain, by the way, in 21 months. ford's sales were also up over 3%. but chrysler continued to struggle, down 30% from the year before. and warren buffett's company, berkshire hathaway a. greed to buy the burlington north railroad. berkshire already owned almost a quarter of the company. now it will own all of it for
$26 billion in cash and stock. it's the biggest deal berkshire has ever made. buffett called it, quote, an all-in wager on the economic future of the united states. on wall street, a mixed finish today with the s&p and nasdaq slightly higher. the dow lost a bit, down 17 1/2. they were three young women out for a drive this past sunday night in dickinson, north dakota. college students, teammates on the softball team. some time that night, we're told, they made two frantic calls for help and then nothing, not a sign of them for days. our own john yang has the latest tonight from just outside nearby bismarck, north dakota. john, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. authorities say they have no idea what kind of trouble these young women got into when they called for help. all they know is there hasn't been a trace of them for two days. late sunday night two brief, scratchy panicked cell phone
calls for help from three college students to a friend. then the line went dead. >> she got the call. they were talking something about water and there was some hysterical noises in the background. >> reporter: authorities immediately launched a search for ashley newfeld, kir steen gamar and williamson, all in their early 20s, all members of the dickinson state softball team. a reverse 911 call was broadcast to 7,000 area residents' phones. >> please stay on the lookout for a white 1997 jeep cherokee with california plates 3ubn 521. the vehicle has possibly three female occupants. please check areas around water, dams, lakes and rivers. >> reporter: in a telephone interview, kirsten gammar's father said the teammates often went stargazing. >> they would just lay out on the hood of the car and talk and enjoy the solitude. it wasn't uncharacteristic for
them to go out and do that. >> reporter: at the young woman's college, a prayer vigil as their family and friends wait, hope and pray. >> they're top-notch kids. the first thing that goes through your mind is disbelief, you know. you don't believe something like that would ever happen, especially to -- to kids that you have grown to be close to for three years. >> if anyone's going to bring them out of it, it's god. that's it. >> reporter: authorities say they don't suspect foul play but because they know so little about the circumstances of their disappearance, they say they can't rule it out. brian? >> john yang outside bismarck tonight on this ongoing story. john, thanks. in the city of cleveland tonight, a convicted sex offender is facing five counts of murder along with rape, assault and kidnapping charges after police found a total of 10 bodies at his home where he was living. police started finding the victims last week after a woman reported being raped at the home of 50-year-old anthony sowell.
the coroner's office says most of the victims were strangled. when our broadcast continues here on a tuesday evening, what parents of high school football players truly need to know about a big increase in injuries. and later on tonight, the story our viewers responded to more than any other. the orphanage we showed you from afghanistan and how you have made a huge difference. a long-awaited journey in aisle 10? yeah. because when you save money on the little things, it adds up to life's more amazing things. walmart saves the average family $3,100 a year no matter where you shop. what will you do with your savings? save money. live better. walmart. there's crest pro-health multi-protection rinse. it provides all these benefits... without the burn of alcohol. crest pro-health multi-protection rinse.
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battlefield. you can hear that on any given sunday. it's not a comforting image, however, for parents of teenage football player if you've ever played the game or if you have a child who does, you know there will be injuries. and sadly head injuries are all too common lately. tonight nbc's chris jansing tells us what is and isn't being done about it. >> reporter: it was a gorgeous fall weekend like this one, a football game like thousands of others. but in october 2006, 13-year-old zachary liested took a hit so hard, you can see him holding his head, yet he got back into the game. do you remember the game at all? >> i don't even remember that school year. >> reporter: when the game was over, zachary collapsed. he was in a coma for almost 40 days, didn't speak for nine months. three years later, zachary's goal now is to walk again. >> i take care of him 24 hours a day, every day of the week.
>> very good, son. >> reporter: they learned head injuries among teenage athletes are devastatingly common. as many as 3 million concussions a year. and one study found that an unacceptably high percentage of high school players were playing with residual symptoms from a prior head injury, putting them at risk for what's known as second impact syndrome. >> if a youth athlete with a concussion continues to participate, bad things can happen. every year five, six, seven youth athletes die after a concussion. >> reporter: and experts say thousands more suffer postconcussion syndrome, leaving players depressed, unable to concentrate, their memory impaired. so what's going on? high school players today tend to be taller, faster, heavier. they hit harder than their dads did, and one thing that hasn't changed, teenagers tend to think they're invincible. >> we have to go the long way. >> reporter: so they fought to get a law passed in washington state with a simple message -- when in doubt, sit them out.
without medical clearance, players don't get back in the game. >> there isn't a parent that i know, there isn't a person that i know that would ever want to live in our life, never. >> reporter: not so long ago, zachary lysted was a multisport star. now he can only play video games, but shows him a heart that made him a winner. >> i would sacrifice my life to serve 100 kids. >> reporter: a life where a single step would now be the greatest victory. chris jansing, nbc news, maple valley, washington. and when we come back here tonight, remembering the man who taught americans to eat right through their car windows. like she was drifting away. we wanted to be there for her... to hold on to her. mom's doctor said his symptoms were signs of alzheimer's, a type of dementia, and that prescription aricept could help. it's thought aricept may reduce the breakdown of a vital chemical in the brain. studies showed aricept slows the progression
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and so-called super scooper aircraft, have gotten things under control early. also early indications were the fires were set, more than one of them, along a freeway. in philadelphia tonight, mass transit workers are on strike over salary, pension and health care issues. commuters are scrambling to find alternate transportation with subway, bus and trolley service shutdown. the union had threatened to strike during the world series, but after last night's game, the action shifted, of course, back here to new york. and a followup to a story we brought you recently. a louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple has resigned today. beth humphrey and terrence mckay were married by somebody else and then filed a civil rights lawsuit against keith bardwell. he said he believed marrying people of different races is wrong because it would harm their future children. troy smith has died. he was the founder of the songic restaurant chain and he popularized ordering by intercom and eating off a tray hung on the car window.
in 42 out of 50 states in this country, dropping in for a drive-in meal at sonic is a way of life, and their ad slogan, sonic, america's drive-in, says it all. for smith, it all started with a root beer stand in shawnee, oklahoma, back in 1953. it got bigger from there fast. there are now almost 136 sonics nationwide. he was 87 years old. when we come back here tonight -- a return visit to a special place that has touched a cord in so many of you. ( music playing )
last friday from kabul in afghanistan, we brought you a story that has since become one of the most popular we have ever done in terms of viewer response. it was a "making a difference" report about a woman running an orphanage in afghanistan, home to over 100 girls and boys who don't have a parent right there to care for them. when we visited, we found a very happy place where the children are well cared for, even in a war zone, even in a dangerous place. we told their story, and then we told them that back home we had some very generous viewers, and you did not disappointment
disappoint. the children we met in kabul spent this last weekend writing thank you notes to "nightly news" viewers they will probably never get to meet, just generous people who wanted to help after they saw this -- oh, you want me to put on your glasses and you're going to put on my glasses. how do we look? we told the story of these children last friday from afghanistan. we told of how they lost their parents to three decades of war, to the taliban in some cases, to u.s. bombing in others. we showed you what a happy home they live in now. they are all going to school and they're all being watched over by one woman, andisha fareed, who runs the program and who was overwhelmed at the generosity of our viewers. >> i just ran from home to office to check the e-mails. most of the e-mails were donations, one-time donations and sponsorship.
we need sponsors for the children. you know, it was some sort of surprise for everybody to receive, you know. >> they received so many e-mails at the orphanage, andisha feared their computer server would be overwhelmed with offers to sponsor these children. the money is still pouring in. "nightly news" viewers have donated over $50,000 so far. of the 150 children andisha said were in need of sponsors, 130 of them have now been taken care of by our viewers. that guarantees these children food, shelter and education and the ability to live independently knowing that they are loved. >> i am happy. i am happy. >> yes, i'm very excited. >> it means a lot for us. this is how they changed their life. >> a number of you asked us about the possibility of
adopting some of the children from the orphanage. we've looked into it thoroughly and it's virtually impossible for americans to do so. also, some of the kids still have parents who are simply unable to care for them at this time. but you can still give, and that's important, by going to our website, nightly.msnbc.com. you have made a huge difference already, and we thank you for it. that's our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com